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Hucksters

Hurry! This offer won’t last! You gotta click Life’s a Pitch! And Then You’d Buy.

The site collects sounds and photos of those fast-talking, carnival-style barkers who rope in crowds with breathless promises for their merchandise (think ShamWow or the Pocket Fisherman). The site is by Trevor Pinch, professor of science and technology studies, who has also studied the role of sound in market pitching (or “grafting”), with his colleague Colin Clark.

In England, retail empires were built by top pitchers, but the profession is dying. Fortunately, Pinch and Clark traveled around England from 1984 to 1994 photographing and recording the sales wizards at work.

“We quickly realized we had stumbled upon a bunch of spellbinding orators and ‘patter-merchants’ who employed a highly sophisticated form of grass-roots marketing rarely found in academic textbooks,” they write on the website.

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